A Phase One document is about ideas. When you’re composing an essay, it’s better for you to get the ideas out first, whether they are pretty or not.
(Phase Two is about organization and Phase Three is about mechanics, but we’ll get to those later.)
Composing a Phase One draft entails a blurting out of ideas and thoughts that are the product of lots of reading. In Phase One writing, we don’t have to worry about paragraphs, punctuation, intro/conclusion, or even staying on the same topic. We concentrate on three things: writing a significant amount of words in one sitting, being sure to references sources often (quoting them when possible), and moving around to try out different ideas.
The key component of the Phase One is the sentence — write interesting, quirky, weird, controversial, challenging sentences whether they connect to the ones before them or after them.
A Phase One might seem chaotic if someone were to try to read it “like an essay.” It should, in many ways, be “all over the place.”
In a Phase One, you’re usually staying inside one topic (because your research should have been focused in one area), but you may not be clearly identifying an argument or sticking with just one.
Phase One (and all academic writing) should derive from a significant amount of reading. Read widely and critically before starting your draft and takes lots of notes. Sometimes the best way to get a Phase One draft started is by listing and annotating your sources and building an approach from there.
You might have to continue to work with a particular Phase One document several times because it might not be “done” — meaning all of the valuable ideas have not been explored, or you just needed to do more reading and then writing about your reading. You know that you’re finished with Phase One writing when you start to feel like you know clearly what you want to write about.